25-year-old steals police car in St. Cloud, arrested

The St. Cloud Police Department says a man is in custody following the theft of a police squad car Thursday night.

According to police, officers were sent to the Kwik Trip located on the 6200 block of County Road 120, responding to a call regarding a suspicious person. Upon arrival, an officer located the man in the parking lot and identified him as 25-year-old Alexander James Butcher. Authorities say Butcher was cooperative, and it was determined initially that Butcher had not committed any crime, so he wasn’t in custody.

The officer had been speaking with Butcher outside the store and at one point stepped back inside the store to speak with an employee. At that time, at about 7:30 p.m., Butcher entered and stole the police squad car, which police say was "unintentionally left unlocked."

The Stearns County Dispatch Center was able to track the squad car’s GPS, which showed the vehicle at times traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle went through Waite Park and then towards St. Joseph, where it eventually stopped in the Millstream Park area, located at 725 County Road 75 West in St. Joseph. Police note that no squads were in active pursuit during the incident.

Then, at about 7:40 p.m., a St. Joseph Police officer responded to the area and located the unoccupied vehicle parked by the park pavilion. No damage was sustained and all police equipment was present in the vehicle, according to police. A set of foot tracks was spotted leaving the squad.

Police from St. Cloud, Cold Spring, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department and State Patrol responded and set up a perimeter. A Stearns County K9 and a St. Cloud drone was used during the search. While police were conducting their search, a homeowner just north of the park called the dispatch center as they heard noises in their basement. Deputies responded to the residence along with a Sauk Rapids K9. It was determined that Butcher had been hiding in an unlocked basement shop area but left prior to police arrival.

Eventually, Butcher was located hiding in a vehicle outside the residence. He was taken into custody without incident at 8:41 p.m. Butcher was transported to the Stearns County Jail to be held on charges related to the theft of the vehicle.

No one was injured in this incident.